Saturday, May 18, 2019

Spain defies Trump's military request over Iran

Spain's government have pulled their frigate from a US-led naval group because of Trump's warmongering with Iran...
"MADRID (Reuters) - Spain has withdrawn a frigate from a U.S.-led naval group in the Gulf because [the USA] was now focusing on alleged threats from Iran rather than an agreed objective to mark an historic seafaring anniversary, the Spanish government said on Tuesday.


“The U.S. government has taken a decision outside of the framework of what had been agreed with the Spanish Navy,” acting Defense Minister Margarita Robles told reporters in Brussels.
That led to the temporary pullout of the 215-sailor Mendez Nunez from the group led by aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as the mission no longer had the objective of celebrating 500 years since the first circumnavigation of the world, as envisaged by a bilateral U.S.-Spanish agreement, she said.
Robles said Spain respected the U.S. decision to focus on Iran and would rejoin the group as soon as it returns to its original task, adding: “Spain will always act as a serious and reliable partner as part of the European Union and within NATO.”
While the European Union shares some U.S. concerns about Iran, including its involvement in Syria’s war, it still backs a 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran from which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew a year ago.
Trump, now trying to isolate Iran, has reimposed sanctions on it and sent the aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a move Washington said aimed to offset threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
Trump is also seeking to cut off Iran’s oil exports to pressure the Islamic Republic to renegotiate stricter limits on its nuclear program and drop support for proxy forces in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen."
Reporting by Paul Day and Jesus Aguado; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Sunday, May 12, 2019

"Women I admire" -- My latest opinion column for Catalonia Today magazine

Neus Català
It took the love of an extraordinary woman for me to start becoming aware. Aware of the huge continuous struggle and achievements of women in a world that makes it all so much harder than it usually is for men.


The #MeToo movement was a badly needed poke in the eye for plenty of men, and I would include myself in that demographic of ignorance. 
I had the general opinion that my half of the species had evolved to be largely respectful and kind towards the other half, but it’s now as clear as the glass ceiling that I had overestimated male behaviour.
During Women’s History Month in March, I also started to think specifically about which individual women I have a strong admiration for or those that have inspired me. In the news very recently, there has been the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, teenage climate-crisis activist Greta Thunberg, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as well as the youngest ever female US Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 
They all have in common an energy, inner strength and brilliance that has been truly remarkable. These women offer great hope for the future in so many ways.
A bit further back in history, there were underrated figures, such as Mo Mowlam, who, working with a deadly brain tumour, was the UK government minister finally able to secure peace in Northern Ireland. (Her then Prime Minister Tony Blair recently completely neglected to include her vital role when he gave a public speech commemorating the 20th anniversary of these peace agreements.)
In the same area of study as the intellectual pioneer Ada Lovelace, there are many others who should be more well-known. Patri, an acquaintance of mine told me the other day about just one of these geniuses: Emmy Noether, a Jewish mathematician from the first part of the 20th century. Patri believes that in fact “most of what is done in the fields of modern physics and a huge branch of mathematics is based on something Noether came up with.” African-American Shirley Ann Jackson is another groundbreaking physicist who few outside the US would have heard of.
Closer to my own personal interests, I have been greatly touched by the work of writers such as Virginia Woolf, Helen Keller, Sylvia Plath, Joni Mitchell, Siri Hustvedt, Slavenka Drakulic and Joanna Bourke. Because of the quality of their work, these last three also deserve much wider recognition.
I also have a great respect for a black woman named Antonella Bundu (who has a Senegalese immigrant father) and is now running to be mayoress of Florence in the local elections at the end of this month. In an increasingly violent, right-wing part of Europe this kind of bravery and heart is both rare and wonderful.
But I don’t just admire women who are public figures. What about all the countless mothers, grandmothers, nurses, carers, teachers and women in the broader world of work who do what they do – and do it well – every day?
Sadly though, some are unable to fulfill their lives’ great potential and I cannot ignore this awful truth. Not long ago, a (male) friend sent me a poignant article that listed just eight young women aged between 16 and 27 who were killed by fanatical, extreme religious family members, all in parts of western Europe and the US. 
The reasons for their murders ranged from refusing an arranged marriage, to not covering their heads, to listening to American music, to getting a job. Here were true individuals. All died purely because they insisted on being themselves and to me, that too merits huge respect.
I would also acknowledge the life and recent passing of Neus Català, who will be well-known to many readers. Finally, I want to dedicate this article to all the victims of domestic violence across the globe.

[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, May 2019.]

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Microplastics blowing into remote Pyrenees mountains

[Photo: Bob Edme/Pool via Reuters]


"Microplastics have been discovered in a remote area of the French Pyrenees mountains [close to the border with Spain/Catalonia.] The particles traveled through the atmosphere and were blown into the once-pristine region by the wind, according to a new study published in Nature Geoscience.
This is just the latest example of the “hidden risks” posed by plastics that humans cannot see with the naked eye. For now, governments and activists are focused on avoiding plastic litter in the environment, driven mainly by concern for wildlife and worries over unsightly drinks bottles or abandoned fishing nets on beaches. Plastic bag usage has been cut in many parts of the world, and various projects are exploring how to gather up the floating plastic waste in oceans. But little has yet been done to deal with polluting plastic particles that are usually invisible.
There is, however, growing concern about these micro and nanoplastics, classified as particles smaller than 5mm. These come in part from deliberately manufactured sources, such as scrubbing materials in cleaning and cosmetic products, but also from secondary sources, such as the inevitable breaking up or wearing down of larger items such as tires or fibers shed from tumble driers and washing machines. We are becoming increasingly aware of their presence but know surprisingly little about how much is out there, how it behaves in our environment and what the implications are for human and animal well-being.
As more studies publish their findings we are learning that microplastics are more widespread than we imagined, and that they are found in every environmental system investigated. Plastic particles have been found in record-breaking quantities in river sediments in the UK, for instance, while a study in Paris found plastic fibers in wastewater and the air."
Read more from source here.


Friday, April 26, 2019

"Barakat becomes [only] second woman to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction"

 "Lebanese author Hoda Barakat has won this year’s $50,000 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) for her epistolary novel The Night Mail (Dar al-Adab), only the second woman to get the award.


Judges picked Barakat from a six-strong shortlist featuring a record four female authors. She was announced as the winner at a packed ceremony in Abu Dhabi...on Tuesday night (23rd April).
In addition to winning $50,000, funding will be provided for the English translation of The Night Mail. An English edition has already been secured by Oneworld, scheduled to appear in 2020, and Barakat said the book, with its themes of migration, would be "very interesting" to readers in the current UK climate.
Her novel tells the stories of its characters through letters written to their relatives in Lebanon, interconnecting and overlapping during the course of the work. They left not only because of war but their home’s painful past and uncertain future. Its theme is described as “one of deep questioning and ambiguity, where boundaries have been erased, and old places and homes lost forever”.
In her speech, Barakat, who left Lebanon during its civil war and now lives in France, revealed she nearly did not enter the prize this year after only being longlisted in 2013 for her novel The Kingdom of This Earth (Dar al-Adab). However, she said Booker Prize Foundation chairman Jonathan Taylor helped convince her to enter again. She said: "The Arabic language is more important to me than any prize."
Speaking afterwards, she explained: "I don't seek exposure, I don't seek popularity."
"I don't care about statistics and numbers," she went on. "If I sell 15 books it's fine, if I sell 50 books then that's better."
She also praised the other shortlisted novels, saying: "This is proof that Arabic fiction is growing in position and stature to an equal level with other novels." "
Read more from source at The Bookseller here.


Friday, April 19, 2019

"Resisting the right: the woman who is a beacon of hope in Salvini's Italy"


"Antonella Bundu is the lead candidate in a coalition of anti-fascist radical-left parties...


On a peaceful Monday morning in March 2018, a Senegalese street vendor named Idy Diene was murdered on the Vespucci bridge in Florence. 
The man who fired the six fatal shots was an Italian pensioner who told the police he had shot randomly at the first person he encountered. He had previously attempted to take his own life.
Antonella Bundu, 49, was one of the first people to arrive at the scene. She burst into tears when she was told that under the blood-stained sheet lay Diene. She had come to know him well, watching him set up and take down his makeshift table of cigarette lighters, tissues and umbrellas.
That afternoon she took part in the protests led by the Senegalese community in Florence. Diene had become the most recent victim of a series of attacks against Africans in Italy as anti-immigrant propaganda, spread in part by the far-right leader Matteo Salvini, continued to circulated in mass media.
Since that day, the number of racially motivated attacks against migrants has risen sharply in Italy, tripling between 2017 and 2018, and Salvini has become interior minister. One year after Diene’s death, spurred on by the climate of intolerance and racism that has spread throughout the country, Bundu has decided to run for mayor of Florence. The daughter of a Florentine mother and a Sierra Leonean father, she has become the first black female candidate for mayor of a large Italian city.
She is the lead candidate in a coalition of radical-left parties including Potere al Popolo (Power to the People) and Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation). The vote will be held at the same time as the European elections on 23-26 May.
“Until a few months ago I never imagined I could take on such a role,” Bundu told the Guardian. “Then a movement tied to the left invited me to speak at the Alfieri Theatre in Florence. I was given one word on which to improvise a seven-minute speech. The word was ‘black’. Without hesitation I poured out about what was happening in Italy. I spoke about myself, my story. They must have liked my monologue, because they immediately asked me if I’d be interested in running for mayor’s office.
Read more about her story at source here.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

"Blurred lives" -- My latest opinion column for Catalonia Today magazine

[Photo: Quim Puig]
Without barely noticing it, we are routinely doing two things (or even more) at the same time. 

I don’t mean having the TV on in our houses, as Juan Goytisolo called it, “Spanishing on” in the background like in a typical bar here.

What I continually notice is that our daily lives are an action movie of driving while texting, texting while watching TV, watching while screen-scrolling, scrolling while not listening to our companions.
Without questioning, our species silently changes what we do. Only 25 years ago, the phone had a fixed place in the hallway. Now it’s wherever we go. Some use it to shop at midnight or gamble and simultaneously watch sport. 
We experience a collective near-addiction to the stimulation that technology provides and this means that we are caught in our own man-made bubble of fixation, at work, at home and in between.
Piled on top of this, personal identities are more and more undefined. The more fashionable among us are flexitarian, pan-sexual. What was private is now openly public. We are selfie-supermodels: silicon titty down-shots and dick-picks for the under 30s. 
Even what was someone else’s body can now be yours. There are women you can find wearing hair extensions from an unknown Chinese stranger.
Some do the opposite and cling to identity. I’m my race, let’s leave Europe, get out of MY country, “walls are good things, barbed wire can be beautiful” says Trump, “eat my shorts” says Homer Simpson.
And who still has a 20th century-style job? The blurring of life-lines has of course crossed over into the world of employment. Oh, you’re a consultant? He’s freelance, she’s a temp/intern/trainee and that kid makes big money from playing computer games. The rest of them all have zero-hours contracts.
In fact at this moment in time, my own income comes from seven different sources. I’m a teacher/journalist/translator/author and occasional recipient of parental financial help...at age 50. 
I currently go to how many different work locations? 
Apart from my own home, which is also a workplace, the answer is: 10. That is over five days. Imagine, too, how many more it would be for a truck-driver, a Deliveroo bike-rider, a home-shopping deliverer or an Amazon door-to-door courier.
Added to creeping uncertainty and the old ways being so far gone, across this fragmented society there are “a million mutinies now,” as the author VS Naipual once wrote. 
To unconsciously fight against the disappearance of any real certainty in our lives, internal reactions are made into actions. Gay bashing, wife-bashing, woman-hating, immigrant-hating, Muslim-hating, Jew-bating, tail-gating, restaurant-rating, bomb-making, piss-taking, muck-raking, reality-faking. 
All with the momentum of a mudslide that doesn’t want to stop.
And what are we now scared of? Not the bullies. Plenty of people are frightened of the failed-economy’s victims. People with next-to-nothing: refugees, the homeless, beggars. 
We are not afraid of the unknown (giant multinational companies, faceless billionaires. They are all too abstract). We are fearful of The Other.
One of the ironies here is that as a result of this ‘loss of separation’ and things being so indistinct (possibly because of it) we are probably further away from each other emotionally and physically, even when we eat.
The French are continuing to be an exception to this trend but research has shown that more than one in five [British] families “only sit down to eat a meal together once or twice a week. 40% of them only sit down together to have a meal three times a week.” The average American eats one in every five meals in a car!
All this has made me tired now. I suspect you are too.

[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, April 2019.]

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Now available: "Slow Travels in Unsung Spain" -- my latest non-fiction book


I'm very happy to say that my new non-fiction book is now available here.

"a compelling and eclectic narrative full of the unexpected" 
-- Nick Inman, Rough Guides

Slow Travels in Unsung Spain is a warts n’ all trip through some of Spain’s hidden gems: towns, cities, landscapes and cultural highlights that are typically overlooked by foreign tourists but which the Spanish often keep to themselves. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

"My First Life as a Nurse"


"...Emergency Room: A motor vehicle accident. Mad with cocaine, a driver has wedged his sports car under a semi on the interstate. Partial (mostly complete) decapitation.
Emergency Room: A knife fight between two women who, after they are admitted, discover that their beds are only a curtain’s breadth apart. A skinny man, the object of their fight, tries to separate them.
Emergency Room: A slow Sunday night in the break room. A resident asks me if I’m really reading the New York Times Book Review or just pretending to. I’m not really sure.
Operating Room: A surgeon throws something heavy at me because I’ve handed him the wrong suture material. Another surgeon, three times my age, propositions me after I’ve tied the back of his surgical gown..."
Read more from source here.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Twittering, I am...

Well, I finally joined the twittersphere this month and am happily tweeting at BrettHethering (or is it also 'twittering?) so if you are also using it please send me a tweet and follow me.

Happy social media life!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

“Madame, I came to the theater thinking I would see Arabs, but instead I could see myself.”


Bizarrely, this week Muslims have had to defend themselves even more after 49 innocents were gunned down in a horrific crime of right-wing terrorism in New Zealand. Here is a fascinating interview with Algerian film director Rayhana...



Anna Pamuła: I’ve read that you have two mothers.
Rayhana: I don’t know which one is my real mother. My father belonged to the mujahideen fighting for Algerian independence from 1954-62. After the war he lost an eye and met a Dutch physician named Connie in the hospital. They became close and likely got drunk one time and landed in bed together. She became pregnant, but he was already married to an Algerian woman.
Each woman told me that I was her daughter and both told me in detail about the process of my birth.
So I have two mothers, and I love them both enormously. I wouldn’t want to know which one lied to me, which is why I’ve decided not to have a DNA test, and I tell myself that they did this out of love.
AP: How far back does your memory reach?
I spent my first years with my Algerian mama, but for school I moved in with Connie. My Algerian family was illiterate, but they cared about my education, so they sent me to be raised by the doctor.
Both mothers were very affectionate toward me, though they also beat me. My father, too. I remember how he once caught me with my hair down after leaving school. I didn’t have to wear a veil, but my hair always had to be tied up. He had no mercy. He dragged me home and cut it short.
But my worst memory is of how my mama punished me by putting hot pepper paste into my vagina. I was eleven years old. She told me to do some shopping and it was a hot day, so I went outside in shorts. When I got home and she saw my bare legs, she started to scream. She grabbed me and told me to sit on a chair and then pried my thighs apart and put harissa in there. I don’t even remember how much it hurt.
AP: Your film, “I Still Hide to Smoke” (2016), is based on a play that you wrote and directed. There is a scene in the play in which the heroine retells the same story.
When I was young, it was normal -- mothers grabbed their daughters between their legs or put harissa in there. I wanted to put it into the film, but the French producer didn’t agree, so we left it out. It was very important to us that we be able to show the film in Arab countries.
AP: How else is the film different from the play?
Unfortunately, I had to censor myself. I was afraid that someone would accuse me of stigmatizing Muslims. I added a line to the screenplay in which one of the heroines says to a radical Muslim woman, “Your Islam is not our Islam.” That wasn’t in the play.
I didn’t want anyone to accuse me of “Islamophobia.” Islam disturbs me as much as any other religion, and it is not the film’s main topic.
AP: Your film tells the story of about a dozen women who meet at a Turkish bath. [In your work, you've] covered almost every important topic in a woman’s life: marriage, pregnancy, confinement after childbirth, death, masturbation, her period, orgasm, virginity, love, sex, etc. Why do these things seem important to you?
Once I showed my work at a theater on the Champs Elysées. A discussion followed. I stood alone on the stage, when suddenly I heard tapping from off to the side: tap, tap, tap.
I could see a woman of around eighty years old, an elegantly dressed white French woman. She definitely had her hair done before the play, rouged her cheeks, and put on green eye shadow -- a beautiful older woman in a perfectly cut suit. She walked with a cane.
She came up to me and said, looking me straight in the eye, “Madame, I came to the theater thinking I would see Arabs, but instead I could see myself.”
And she walked away, tapping her cane on the wooden stage. Silence fell, and then all at once, everyone stood up in an avalanche of applause. The director of the theater signed a contract with me for twenty more performances.
AP: What did the French woman see?
I am sure she had experienced violence. Maybe her husband beat her. I regret that I didn’t manage to speak with her.
Lately during discussions following film screenings, someone always says, “It’s really bad for women in Algeria.” This bothers me, because, in my opinion, injustice toward women is happening all over the world, only in different degrees. Every two and a half days, a French woman is killed by her husband.  But there also exist leftist French feminists who assert, for example, that female circumcision is just cultural difference, so they cannot be opposed to it. This also irritates me.
AP: Why didn’t you use Algerian actresses?
At the beginning I sent the screenplay to actresses whom I trusted. But even for them, to show a scene at a public bath was too much. The bath is a sacred place where women are naked. I was also counting on the film being shown at festivals in Algeria, and that would have been impossible. The director of one of them even told me that the film was vulgar and filthy.
AP: Do you remember visiting the baths in your youth?
I rarely went, because I lived with my Dutch mama, who did not have that custom. As a result, it was an exotic place for me. But I went there often enough to see that Arab women were not embarrassed about anything at the baths.
AP: Women are naked, touch each other, but I would not call this a sensual film. You show the whole body as it is.
Some critics have even accused me of making a film that lacks sensuality, but I don’t want to dazzle people with the female body. They see it that way, because they are looking from a European perspective.
This is precisely a problem of Orientalism -- a group of naked women in a bath means automatically that something is going to happen, but these women are going there simply to bathe.
AP: Why did you choose a female cinematographer?
I wanted the actresses to feel free. That aside, I was counting on having a woman’s gaze. A male cameraman would definitely do more closeups of the body, the skin. He would show a woman washing another woman in a sensual fashion, but I wanted to have Fatima scrubbing her friend’s back so hard that her skin would be all red. I didn’t want the camera to be ogling the women. I specifically chose women who are not models, who do not have perfect bodies. They have cellulite and sagging breasts. Even the most beautiful among them, Hiam Abbas, shows stretch marks on her belly from several births.
AP: Do you like being a woman?
I love men and I adore my own womanhood! Now I don’t wear makeup anymore. Before, I was a real coquette. I had long curly hair and wore dresses.
AP: “I am a woman who loves men.” That’s what you said in one of your interviews.
We can’t love each other, truly love each other, if we don’t have equality. I fight for women’s rights, because without them we will not be able to change our mentality. After all, if things are so good for men, why would they arrange things differently on their own? The law must be forced upon them.
Once an Algerian woman could not leave the country without her husband’s permission; now this law no longer applies. A year ago, a law forbidding domestic violence came into effect, all thanks to the work of female political activists. A man can be punished now. I am certain that our struggle is right, though it takes a great deal of time. More and more women work, and more women study at universities than men. On the other hand, Islamists have grown in power, so more and more women are also moving backward, radicalizing.
***
Rayhana (b. 1964) – Algerian actor, director, and playwright. She has lived in France since 2001. Her play, “At My Age, I Still Hide to Smoke,” in which she made her debut as an actress and director, achieved great success in French theaters. In 2017, she made a film under the same title.
The above excerpts are from Anna Pamuła’s interview with Rayhana, originally appearing in the Polish weekly Wysokie Obcasy in July 2017.

Translated by David A. Goldfarb
My source was: News Mavens.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Brexit blues" -- My latest opinion column for Catalonia Today magazine

[Protesters in London, January 2019. EFE] 
My wife and I are just a few weeks away from being what amounts to illegals in a country (in fact, an entire continent) where we have lived for the last 4,600 days.

Both of us having a British parent has meant that we’ve been able to have most of the rights and responsibilities of a European citizen and our (Australian only) teenage son has had no legal problem either.
With Brexit this is all soon to change for us and an estimated 308,000 Brits in Spain.
Another million or so across the rest of the European Union are set to face the same uncertain status unless the British government finally delivers on its promise to fully safeguard its passport holders living in the EU. 
Quite simply, there is growing alarm, anger and feelings of abandonment across this very disparate group of individuals.
But how and why did we get to this point in the first place?
It’s worth remembering that the cause of Brexit was an advisory referendum. 
It was a public vote called by former Conservative prime minister David Cameron more than two years ago. 
He made the referendum happen purely (in his mind) to prevent the growing popularity of UKIP (right-wing anti-Europeans) and to shore up his own leadership in a party with a range of strong opinions on Britain being an EU member.
Cameron did not design this referendum because of public pressure in the United Kingdom. 
In fact, only 37% of the voting population ended up choosing to cast their vote in favour of leaving, though this was almost 52% of the total vote.
As senior EU officials have in fact recently confirmed, Cameron believed that his then coalition partner, the Liberal-Democrats, wouldn’t agree to an in/out Brexit referendum. 
When Cameron won an election and then found himself governing without the Lib-Dems, his hand was forced by powerful elements in his party and the business sector, despite Cameron being publicly pro-Europe. Also mistakenly, he expected a victory anyway.
So, the awful mess we are in now was started by the Conservatives and is being continued to this day by the Conservatives. I am not going to talk about those who promoted Brexit with, what Donald Tusk rightly called “not even a sketch of a plan to carry it through safely.” 
I am not going to talk about the countless thousands of working people who have already lost jobs to Brexit-era closures and relocations, or about a likely 750,000 more unemployed to come.
I am also not going to talk about the loss to UK schools, hospitals and service industries of EU nationals, forced out by a government pursuing a “hostile environment” policy toward immigrants. 
I could also mention those Europeans who felt it necessary to leave Britain because of the greatly increased bigotry and discrimination against many of them that Brexit has unleashed.
Instead, I am going to identify the single biggest reason why the pro-Leave forces won the referendum. Apart from blatant lies, scaremongering and running a campaign that spent illegally, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and others took clear advantage of their own government’s austerity policies.
Massive social welfare cuts, hospital privatisation, school budgets slashed, starving local councils of funding and large scale vital infrastructure being left in ruins. 
All this together created sections of the country who were itching to make a protest vote and punish the government, Europe, immigrants: these were who Leave leaders identified as being at fault for what was in reality the everyday results of the harshest forms of austerity. 
This was why Britain needed to “Take Back Control”. This finger-pointing was enough. That simple slogan.
And now today, look at the result.

[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, March 2019.]

Friday, March 1, 2019

"Why your next read should be from Catalonia"


Apart from someone like the excellent Matthew Tree, "it’s slim pickings for English-language readers looking for literary insight into this fascinating, independent-minded culture, with translations of Catalan masterpieces woefully sparse.


And for every regularly translated Montserrat Roig, Quim Monzó or Jaume Cabré — the latter of whom Catalan scholar Montserrat Lunati considers to be “possibly the best novelist in Catalan right now” — you’ve got a Max Besora, Albert Pijuan or Maria Guasch, who’ve been recognized for producing some of the best books of 2017, but have yet to see their works published in English.
Still, English-language publications are slowly taking note. Based on recommendations from Catalan writer, literary critic and current coordinator of the “Barcelona, City of Literature” project Marina Espasa, and others, here are some texts that you can find in English, whether in print or online.

WE COULD HAVE STUDIED LESS BY MARTA ROJALS

(Translated by Alicia Maria Meier). Rojals’ impressive 2011 debut, Primavera, estiu, etcètera, is an “exceptionally good” novel, Espasa says, that effectively taps into the everyday parlance of the people, all while exploring the plights of a generation. The author strikes a balance between selling well without selling out, Espasa adds, and that’s also evident in her tightly crafted “passionate and on-the-money” essays, such as those compiled in We Could Have Studied Less. Life in contemporary Catalonia has rarely been articulated so well.
Translated excerpts here.

‘FOR NO ONE’ FROM LA MALA REPUTACIÓ BY BEL OLID

(Translated by María Cristina Hall). As a writer’s rights activist, one-time candidate for a seat in Catalan Parliament and a key figure of queer visibility on the Catalan literary scene, Olid is so much more than a writer. “For No One,” taken from her short story collection La mala reputació, is one of her few pieces available in English, says Catalan-to-English translator Bethan Cunningham. And like Olid herself, it’s complex and engrossing. A queer, tragic love story of sorts, it’s a beautifully executed tale that will leave you emotionally broken.
Translated short story here.

YOU’VE LIKELY NEVER BEEN TO A PARTY THIS BIG BY BORJA BAGUNYÀ

(Translated by Scott Shanahan). Bagunyà may have published three books and generated much critical acclaim and discussion, but he remains surprisingly underrated beyond the Catalan literary scene. In fact, his short story “You’ve Likely Never Been to a Party This Big” (translated in 2017), which relates the disorienting, so often unarticulated horrors of attending a sprawling social gathering, is the first time an English translation of his work has been published online.
Translated short story here.

THE LAST PATRIARCH BY NAJAT EL HACHMI

(Translated by Peter Bush). One of the most widely acclaimed (and widely translated) books to come from Catalonia in the past decade is The Last Patriarch, by Moroccan-Catalan- Spanish [?] author el Hachmi. Touching on some of the more overtly drawn autobiographical themes addressed in her 2004 debut, Jo també sóc catalana (I’m Catalan Too), this is a two-parter of violence, identity and, ultimately, empowerment.

MEDDLING KIDS BY EDGAR CANTERO

As opposed to the previous writers, Cantero often skips the whole translation debacle, and writes in English. His second English-language novel, New York Times best-seller Meddling Kids — inspired by kids’ TV favorite Scooby-Doo — blends a unique, meta narrative with more pop culture references than Stranger Things (however, it does a far better job at subverting them)."
For further reading see source at Ozy here.